State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) encourages local small business owners to apply for the Department of Environmental Protection's Small Business Advantage Grant program.

Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $9,500 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution-prevention equipment or procedures.

"Our environment is our most precious resource and assisting businesses in becoming more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly is a great way to protect that resource," Yudichak said. "I encourage all eligible businesses to apply for this vital funding and not only cut costs, but more importantly, cut down pollution."

Yudichak, Democratic chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, added that while the application deadline is Sept. 26, grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.

To be eligible for a Small Business Advantage Grant, applicants must be a for-profit corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity with 100 or fewer full-time employees. The grant-supported project must be in a Pennsylvania facility owned by the applicant and must save the business at least 25 percent, plus $750 annually in energy or pollution-related expenses.

Applicants may be manufacturers, retailers, service providers, mining operators or agricultural businesses. Eligible projects include HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery systems, waste recycling systems and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks.

For more information and to view the application package, instructions and application form, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the "Small Business Advantage Grant" button, or call (717) 772-8909.